Charleston to Norfolk Day 3 – Where do naval ships go in the day? Arrival in Norfolk

Martin and Elizabeth Bevan
Fri 27 Apr 2012 13:21

Charleston to Norfolk Day 3 – Where do naval ships go in the day? Arrival in Norfolk


Position           N36:51.15 W076:17.89

Date                2300 Wednesday 25 April 2012


Where do US Navy ships go in daylight?  I have no idea but I jolly well know where they go at night.  By dawn they just seem to melt away.  Judging from the numbers tied up in the Norfolk Naval base, passed at 1130 this evening, perhaps they have to be back in their berths before the light of dawn.  We certainly did not see any during the day which is odd when you consider how many there appear to be out at night.


We rounded Cape Hatteras at 0200 about 10 miles off the Cape and with no marked increase in the sea.  Rounding and coming onto the wind was made a little more difficult than it might by a tight riding turn on the staysail winch that took a number of pieces of rope, blocks and a winch to sort out.  After a couple of hours motor sailing we were able to lay our course without engine for Cape Henry at the entrance to the Chesapeake.


Shortly after rounding Cape Hatteras I started to see the lights of three ships that did not appear on the AIS; a sure sign of warships in this part of the world where they carry two steaming lights unlike Royal Navy ships which only carry one.  The first one from its radar image and vague mass of lights some 8 miles away must have been a carrier, no stealth technology there.  The second one passed us safely but the second one definitely appeared to have our name on it and the radar showed it to be on a collision course at 2nm out on our starboard side.  On with all the deck lights and a call on VHF raised them.  After a second call and now at ½ nm they very courteously offered to alter course passed behind us.  Naval vessels out in the middle of the night exercising are as difficult to avoid as fishing boats as they tend to pursue somewhat random courses and speed; the big difference is that, from experience, naval vessels answer radio calls.  Oh and if that was not enough there were a variety of fast small boats zooming around the place which I assume were Marines at play.


Dawn came up like thunder from out the Atlantic, well it was very beautiful as was the day that followed.  The wind kept on coming and going and as we were very much on the wind judicious uses of engine was required to maintain progress as we had decided to get into Norfolk during the hours of darkness rather than slow down and await the dawn.  Originally the passage plan gave an arrival time of Thursday late morning but such good progress had been made as to bring the ETA back to midnight Wednesday.  So we had beautiful day’s progress in an almost flat sea with just a gentle swell to let you know that you were sailing in the open Atlantic.


Cape Henry, the southern tip of the entrance to the Chesapeake was rounded at 1900, in the company of dolphins, and it was then the 28nm slog half against the ebb into Norfolk.  Because of the lateness of the hour it was our intention to anchor off Hospital Point and wait for the morning to go into the Pilot House Berth but as we came abreast of Pilot House the VHF sprang into life with Greta saying that they would be down on the dock to help us get along side if we wished; and that is exactly what happened.  This is the fourth time that I have come into this dock and for the first time current and only a small breeze blowing us off allowed a decorous arrival, enough said about the others.


It was good to catch up with Gary and Greta and a little damage was done to a bottle of port purchased by us at Croft’s in Oporto – a real Ocean Cruising Club bottle, qualified, or is that quaflified, in its own right.


Distance from Andros, Bahamas to Norfolk via Charleston 935nm.